Posted by Misha Henckel
If you’ve ever felt stuck, helpless, like your life has come to an end and you do not know what to do, you do not know what comes next, or you do not know which way to turn, then you know exactly how I had been feeling for a while. It’s quite horrible, really, and so there’s a term for it - psychological IMPASSE. It’s as if everything you know no longer applies. It just no longer works. So you try harder, put in more effort, give it your all and still nothing happens. Living has become impossible. As if the rules for Life have changed and no one saw it fit to tell you.
I know I’m not the only one who, in these past months, has felt something akin to this.
We are in this period of intense global change – multi-paradigm shifts, all at the same time. The result in layman’s terms – the (bleep) is hitting the fan. And everybody is affected either at a macro level or more directly in our personal lives. For me it’s been the ending of one phase of my life and the need to begin a new chapter. Took me a while to figure it out, but then it was clear that it was time for me to really be getting on with what I know I’m meant to be doing.
Easier said than done!
When the change around us is comprehensive, we need to change ourselves. As I was working though my own need to change myself, my modus operandi, and my beliefs about myself and the world, I came across a rather remarkable book: Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths by Timothy Butler (Harvard University Press). It is brilliant and perfect for the time, and I strongly recommend it for anyone and everyone.
According to Butler, one of the signs of IMPASSE is the feeling of self-doubt that begins to creep up on you. Life as you’ve done it is no longer working and you are beginning to doubt yourself. Maybe you made the wrong choice. Or, maybe you don’t have it in you; you’re just not good enough. I found myself questioning things I had never ever doubted before. Maybe I was in the wrong profession after all. Or maybe, it’s impossible to raise kids single-handedly and do things I wanted to do. You know, take my work to a whole other level. Perhaps I should just wait till they grew up… Or maybe I should chuck it all in and get a “regular” job.
My “old” ways of doing things were no longer working, and I couldn’t find the way out. I certainly could not create new possibilities with old methods, beliefs, or ways of thinking. This is a classic symptom of IMPASSE, according to Butler. A trigger event (usually some significant change or loss) brings us to a dead end and we are forced to look at life differently because if we continue to “use the old ways it will just mean more pain.”
While it can seem like a traumatic experience, one to be avoided at all costs, IMPASSE actually is a very powerful means toward “breakthrough.” It signifies the coming to an end of one chapter of life, or of a particular role, or way of being. When we are caught in an IMPASSE crisis, we are required to let go of the old and step into the new.
It is unquestionably human nature to sink into the comfort of the familiar, even when we know in our hearts that it’s doing nothing for us. The pain of IMPASSE forces us to awaken, to be open and vulnerable, to release the clutches of past habits and patterns and to embrace the path forward – even when we don’t know what to do, or how to do it, and there are no guarantees.
For me, IMPASSE was forcing me to give up patterns that I had used all my life. Those patterns had always “worked” for me. But now, for what I wanted to do next, for where I needed to go, those patterns were the problem. I have always been the self-sufficient, I can do all by myself, let’s take on the world and win, kind of person. And that had to change. Moving forward, I am going to have to really open up to input, guidance, and support from others. Lots and lots of it! It’s my new path… Write and tell me about yours. firstname.lastname@example.org
2.13.12 at 12:37 pm | She made our souls dance
1.31.12 at 12:28 am | With excellent and unpredictable choices...
1.22.12 at 5:27 pm | She's teaching us how to fight every single day
1.16.12 at 2:02 pm | No real surprises
11.24.11 at 2:13 pm | This is still the most amazing country in the. . .
11.10.11 at 11:46 am | Sometimes it's not what you do, but what you fail. . .
11.1.11 at 2:43 pm | They're the epitome of success, in a society. . . (9)
6.28.11 at 10:39 pm | She's not at all like so many of our political. . . (9)
4.18.11 at 4:56 pm | And she can thank her lucky stars for that (8)
June 3, 2010 | 9:25 pm
Posted by Misha Henckel
Like so many others, I have been deeply disturbed and quite despondent over recent events in the waters off of Gaza. I wanted to write something here, but was loath to add to the wanton opining from a distance by many who seem so ready to add fuel to an already raging conflagration.
Then earlier today, I received some words of wisdom from my friend Rabbi Ken Chasen - guidance that I believe provides both the perspective and the intention we need to have in response to the crisis. I have shared them with you below:
Ever since we awakened on Memorial Day to the awful news regarding the Gaza flotilla tragedy, our hearts have been heavy with concern, both for the dead and wounded and for the future of Israel and its neighbors. As we have attempted to sort through our own feelings of despair and outrage, we have been immersed in a sea of conflicting accounts, opinions and condemnations, all of which have served to confuse more than to clarify. We will surely need to display some patience in order to understand the specifics of what did and did not happen on that ship off of Gaza, but in the meantime, we do not have the luxury of patience as we seek to do our part in charting a course that ensures a democratic Israel living peacefully with its neighbors.
In the aftermath of Monday’s events, one thing is clearer than ever before – the status quo which produced this standoff simply cannot be perpetuated anymore. With great pain, we have seen yet again that the status quo neither creates long-term security for Israelis nor affords proper human dignity to Palestinians, especially in Gaza, where the suffering is undeniable. Nobody is winning this war, yet both sides seem unable to choose a different course of action.
At this time of deep frustration and fears about the future, I hope you will join with me in advocating for a bold change of direction in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. It will require courage to choose a different future. There are many reasons to question the safety, fairness or practicality of the various alternatives to the status quo. But we already know where the road upon which we are currently traveling leads. Monday provided only the latest evidence. To continue down that same road and expect a different result is irrational and, as we have seen again this week, endlessly destructive.
May we look back years from now and remember this tragedy as the catalyst that led at last to a better tomorrow. If we want it to happen, we must join in making it so.~ Rabbi Ken Chasen (excerpt from an email to the congregants of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles)